CELTIC were the winners of this afternoon’s Old Firm derby at Parkhead, securing the Premiership title with a 5-0 victory.
After going behind on 13 minutes to an Odsonne Edouard strike, four goals in a 13-minute period either side of half time from Edouard again, James Forrest, Tom Rogic and Callum McGregor left Rangers trailing by five.
The result means the Light Blues are now third in the Scottish Premiership, three points behind second-placed Aberdeen and level with fourth-placed Hibernian, with Gers having a better goal difference than both.
The game began with Celtic on the front foot, and while they had a succession of corners that were well dealt with by the Rangers defence, there was little in the way of clear-cut chances.
That was until the 13th minute, when some slack marking from Gers allowed the home side to take the lead. From the left, Kieran Tierney crossed to the front post, and waiting there was Edouard to sweep the ball home.
From there, Gers could have folded under the atmosphere inside Parkhead, but they actually began to play some decent football and fashioned a wonderful chance for an equaliser.
Jamie Murphy played a tremendous ball through the middle of the Celtic defence for Jason Holt, who had broken free from his holding midfield berth. His effort on goal was a decent one, curling for the bottom-left corner, but there to deny him was goalkeeper Craig Gordon with an excellent, full-stretch save.
Then, following a quick free-kick routine, both Josh Windass and Jason Cummings found themselves beyond the home defence. From the right wing, Windass looked set to square for Cummings, but he delayed his pass and allowed Celtic to clear.
Gers, perhaps buoyed by their good play, committed men forward, and were caught on the break as Celtic made it 2-0 five minutes before half time. A through ball for Edouard left him one-on-one with Russell Martin, with the striker getting the ball beyond both him and Jak Alnwick in goals from the edge of the area.
There was time for another before half time, this time James Forrest drifted in from the right wing while avoiding a couple of challenges from visiting defenders before firing beyond Alnwick.
Into the second half, and Celtic made it four within two minutes of the restart. After a scramble in the box, Gers players were out of position – including goalkeeper Jak Alnwick – and as the ball broke to Tom Rogic on the edge of the area, he had the simple task of lashing the ball into an empty net.
Just minutes later, it was five. Edouard managed to get himself to the by-line before cutting the ball back for Callum McGregor who was stationed in the middle to poke home.
At the other end, a wicked Windass effort from 25-yards came back off the post as the visitors looked to salvage something from the game, while Gers had Alnwick to thank for a string of excellent saves from Olivier Ntcham, Forrest and then a stunning double stop from Rogic to keep the score at five.
Daniel Candeias had a late volley at goal which slipped narrowly wide, but this was a day to forget for the Gers, who must lift themselves for the final three matches of the season.
CELTIC: Gordon, Brown, Rogic (Sinclair, 67), Boyata, Ntcham, Edouard (Griffiths, 75), Lustig (Hendry, 71), Ajer, McGregor, Forrest, Tierney.
SUBS NOT USED: Bain, Simunovic, Roberts, Kouassi.
RANGERS: Alnwick, Tavernier, Dorrans (Docherty, 71) Windass (Morelos, 55), Halliday, Candeias, Holt, Cummings, Murphy, Martin, McCrorie.
SUBS NOT USED: Kelly, Hodson, Rossiter, Goss, O’Halloran.
REFEREE: Craig Thomson.